West Ham V Tottenham at Upton Park - Match Preview
Updated Sunday, 24th February 2013
West Ham V Tottenham at Upton Park - Match Preview.
Allardyce warning over Bale
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce believes his side will have a greater chance of beating London rivals Tottenham on Monday night if they can stop Gareth Bale lighting up Upton Park.
The Welsh winger has been in scintillating form for Spurs this season, already scoring 17 goals and hauling Andre Villas-Boas' side out of trouble on more than one occasion.
Allardyce saw his side lose 3-1 at White Hart Lane in November, with Bale's name on the scoresheet and a Jermain Defoe brace proving enough for Spurs to take the points.
Although Allardyce is aware of the numerous attacking options at Villas-Boas' disposal he knows Bale is more than likely the man who can inspire Spurs to get a result.
"They've been very good," the 58-year-old said of Spurs' season.
"The team from an attacking point of view has been outstanding, Recently they've lost their leading goalscorer, who is Jermain Defoe, and (Emmanuel) Adebayor has been away at the Africa Cup of Nations, so from a goalscoring point of view they've had to rely on one man and one man only to come up with the goods.
"That's Gareth Bale and he's been the major difference between Tottenham and the teams they've played recently.
"Not only has he scored very important goals, but they've been stunning goals at that. He's going to need some looking after on Monday night."
Allardyce has confirmed both James Collins and Joey O'Brien have been training this week and are in contention.
Collins has been missing due to a hamstring problem whilst fellow defender O'Brien was sidelined with a thigh injury but both are now part of Allardyce's squad for the London derby against Spurs.
George McCartney (knee) is also on the comeback trail but the game on Monday will come too soon for him.
Mousa Dembele insists Tottenham have no reason to fear anyone.
The pressure is on Spurs to re-establish their four-point lead over Arsenal ahead of next Sunday's north London derby at White Hart Lane.
Last season Tottenham held a 10-point advantage over the Gunners in February, but they then fell away spectacularly and ended up missing out on Champions League qualification thanks to Chelsea's win in Munich.
Villas-Boas is determined not to let the same thing happen again this term. His team have been the personification of consistency in the league, where they are unbeaten since December 9.
They also go in to the game on the back of a morale-boosting win over Lyon in the Europa League - and the man who secured their progression to the last 16 on Thursday night thinks he and his team-mates are playing at the top of their game right now.
"We don't have to fear any team," said Dembele, who secured a 3-2 aggregate win with a 90th minute equaliser in the Stade de Gerland.
"People have respect for us. If you're in a winning mood it's important in the league.
"We have two more very important games coming up in the league so the confidence will stay high and that's good for us."
Given the gulf in ability between the two sides, West Ham are expected to approach the derby cautiously.
Tottenham have struggled at times to break down teams who shut up shop. They have often had to rely on the brilliance of Gareth Bale to find come away with three points, but Dembele is confident Spurs will be able to overcome their rivals on Monday regardless of the tactics they employ.
"It will be a different game to the Lyon one of course," Dembele said.
"Teams always have a lot of respect for us and they drop back so it's always difficult, but I think we need to do the difference, we have to fight for each other as well. It will be a physical game, for sure, but we are used to it and this is a special match for us and the supporters too because it is a derby."
Hugo Lloris is expected to return in goal after being on the bench in Lyon.
Striker Jermain Defoe (ankle) returns to training next week, but he will not be considered for the match against his former club.
Younes Kaboul, Sandro and Tom Huddlestone (all knee) are unavailable.
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